Monday, December 30, 2013

Some thoughts for the end of the year.

End of Year Thoughts:

The end of the year, as we look toward a new year, time to assess what the year has brought us: what happened and what we did about it as well as what we need to do again or change in the upcoming one. Our family situations change, health needs change (sometimes even mental health needs), legal responsibilities change. Maybe it is time to talk to a legal professional.

If you choose to speak with an attorney, make sure you find one who is versed in the type of legal issues you need help with: elder care or special needs child, healthcare Power of Attorney or Social Security -- you get the picture.

On ElderCarelink there is a page on the link - 'Ask the Expert Elder Law Page'. The article shows things to discuss (some of these pertain to both categories of those we care for):

*estate planning
*elder abuse
*age discrimination

As I mentioned, some of the above can pertain to our special needs children. You may want to check out the U.S. Department of Education site and see if anything can help. Laws vary by state but you may see something there that can help. Talk to their teachers too - they can put you in the right direction.

Most of all remember - as I remember being told when I was growing up: 'the only stupid question is the one not asked'.

Ask for Help:

Short and Sweet -- As we all run around preparing for Christmas, Hanukkah, or any other holiday you may celebrate, anyone will tell you - make sure you take time for yourself, care for YOUR emotional and physical well-being. You can't help others if you are not feeling well. ElderCarelink offers 2 ways to help reduce the stress, which I am sure everyone is aware of.

*Hire in-home care to help with transportation, meals, housekeeping, companionship, and personal care.

*Adult care services so your elderly parents too can stay active and be with their peers.

Simple and easy solutions that caretakers should take advantage of. Don't feel bad about wanting to take time for yourself to go to a party or shopping or get your hair done or out for lunch with friends you haven't seen for awhile. You know what?? Sometimes your loved one enjoys time doing something different with someone else, talking about the 'old days', remembering 'the big band era', or what their family used to eat during this time of year -- all the stories WE have heard so many times. It's different with others - a new audience, so to speak. It can be a better thing all the way around for everyone involved.

In a sense, this can also go for help with your special needs child. Use respite care to step in if you need to go out. Depending on the child, he/she might not like all the hustle and bustle and loudness of shopping and parties. Respite care through a variety of agencies can help. There may be teachers or teacher assistants who can help too. I know some of Willie's teacher assistants do this. When mom passed away, Willie's Special Olympics coach stepped in to watch Willie at the funeral home during the wake hours. We wanted him nearby with the family but knew he wouldn't sit or stay still for a long time; so his coach graciously stepped in to stay with him and wander or go out to the car for a time, go to the bathroom -- whatever he wanted to do, It was such a GREAT HELP. I can tell you - use your resources; the guilty feeling goes away in a short time!!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Unconventional Suggestions for Christmas Gifts.

From our priest, posted in today's bulletin, are some ideas to consider as gifts that won't cost any money.

1) To one who has hurt you - forgiveness;
2) For one who has disappointed you - understanding;
3) For one who has driven you crazy - tolerance and patience;
4) To a friend - your heart;
5) To a customer - service;
6) To all - charity;
7) To every child - a good example;
8) To yourself - respect;
9) To God - your soul.

These can not only serve as Christmas presents but also a nice way to start the New Year. We should all try each one of these as best we can; make a fresh start with people and ourselves to become a better person for your own community and for the world - start with yourself and others may 'pay it forward' with the same ideas. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In-Take Meeting for Adult Services.

Well as the end of December appproaches, Will turns 21 and he gets closer to officially graduating; he was able to walk the stage with his peers at the end of his regular senior year. Now he can get his diploma or certificate (whatever the state has decided for our special needs students) and turn to adult day services, which we have been working towards these past months - see transition label. I picked out 2 agencies for him to attend and today we had our first in-take meeting. The John Fogarty Center is for employment 2 days a week. They also offer music, art, computer for both skills and fun. They wanted me to bring Will and he wasn't fazed by the fact it was comperable to being at a Camp David summit meeting. Wow! A good number of staff members were there and believe me, I am not saying this is a bad thing! I thought it was wonderful. Very similar to the past IEP meetings we had. There was our state agency case worker, social workers from the agency, a nurse, the person in charge of the employment program, people in charge of the agency offices. As everyone explained their job and how they were to be involved with Will's program, I came to the conclusion that clients in the program are very well taken care of. Questions and answers went around the room, to Will included so they can see how he handled himself and uses his iPad for communication. His plan goes to the state from here to be approved. In the meantime, we get more forms filled out. He should be eligible to ride a bus, here called the RIde Program, that is designated for people with disabilities and seniors who fill the state's requirements from several different agencies. It may be free or for a small fee. Part of the form is sent to this person's physician, which should not be a problem for him. We now sit and wait for one agency plan to be finalized. In the meantime, I hope to get started working on his second agency, Community Living of RI for 3 days a week. This will be more for social, in the community trips and events. As soon as the word comes down, there will be another meeting to firm up plans here. We looking forward to starting at the end of January, beginning of February. We all know plans can be modified, so if Will needs things changed, it should not be a problem. Everyone so far has been easy to talk to and seem very upfront with information.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Feeling like the walls are caving in? Need help with remembering?

The holidays are here, again. So on top of a caregivers regular 'to do' list, comes the errands of buying gifts, writing cards, going to school plays or musicals, decorating the house or houses, etc., to name a few things. Most people automatically assume when you talk about memory issues, you are referring to an elderly parent or family member. Any caregiver worth their salt, will say it is not so. It is a pretty good assumption that the brain will get fried to a certain extent during this time of year. Some families have helpful other family member and friends; some families have to go it on their own.
According to AARP, there are memory boosters. Not only are they good for the older member of the family, but will be good for those caregivers who may be 'sandwiched'.
Check out these 8 memory boosters from the site: 1 - lift weights - In one study of 65- to 75-year olds with normal cognitive function, women who exercised for an hour once or twice a week, using dumbbells, weight machines and other calisthenic exercises significantly improved their long-term mental focus and decision-making. The control group — which did not see the same brain benefits — did "balance and toning exercises" including stretching, range-of-motion. Another study, of 70- to 80-year olds with mild cognitive impairment, showed cognitive improvemet among women who did either resistance training or aerobic exercises. Men weren't included in that study, but other research involving both genders finds that strength training helps preserve or improve memory.
2 - laugh - A hearty laugh provides short but similar benefits of aerobic exercise for improved heart (and brain) health and immunity. Other benefits: Laughter elevates the production of neurotransmitters linked to improved memory and alertness while decreasing stress hormones that can cloud thinking. And when listening to jokes, as you wrestle to understand the punch line, areas of the brain that are vital to learning, creativity and decision-making activate, much as they do when working out
"brainteaser" crossword puzzles and Sudoku.

3 - take a nap - In addition to improved daytime alertness, good sleep — night after night — helps keep memory and learning well-tuned. But even with Rip Van Winkle-like nocturnal habits (and certainly without), consider a regular afternoon nap for about 90 minutes. It costs nothing but time — and the payback, according to studies, could be significant. Compared to non-nappers, those who partake in daytime zzz's display measurable improvements in tests gauging decision-making, problem-solving, creativity and even tasks like recalling directions.
4 - meditate - Studies find that daily meditation can strengthen connections between brain cells, increase growth in the part of the brain that controls memory and language, and may even bolster the ability to process information and make decisions more quickly. There are various forms of meditation, but most involve spending 15–60 minutes — best if done at least once a day — of focused attention on a word, object, sound or even your own breathing.
5 - rate your plate - Grains like oatmeal, brown rice, barley and quinoa supply energy to the brain, which may boost learning. Nuts and seeds — including low-cost peanuts, sunflower seeds and flax — are loaded with vitamin E, which helps combat cognitive decline as you age. Blueberries, cherries, raspberries and red grapes contain antioxidants to feed brain areas responsible for memory and learning (apples, bananas and oranges are also good). Spinach, tomatoes, onions and asparagus are vegetable standouts. And while salmon remains supreme, less expensive fish — also rich in omega-3 fatty acids — include tuna, sardines, anchovies and mullet.
6 - step lively - Just walking briskly — no equipment necessary — cuts your lifetime risk of Alzheimer's disease by half. So does most anything else (including money-saving DIY gardening and housecleaning) that gets your heart pumping for at least 150 minutes per week, ideally for 30 minutes or longer per session. Why? Boosting heart rate improves blood flow to areas of the brain involved with memory, learning and decision-making. Hint: Studies find a walk in the park boosts energy, focus and well-being more than indoor exercise.
7 - socialize - Take a free class at the local library. Volunteer. Make use of Facebook. Or just hang out with friends. Any of these no-cost activities reduces the risk of dementia and slows or prevents cognitive decline. Theory: Social engagement means mental engagement — talking or just being around others requires focus and attention to details (while combating loneliness, itself a risk for dementia), and some research suggests even brief but regular social engagement bolsters memory, self-awareness and the ability to not be easily distracted.
8 - brush & floss - For just pennies a day, good oral hygiene can help prevent gingivitis and gum disease. Most people know that inflammation in your mouth has been linked to heart disease; what's less well-known is that gingivitis has also been linked to several cognitive problems, including declines in memory and verbal and math skills. More serious gum disease boosts the risk of memory problems as much as threefold (plus factors into stroke, diabetes and heart disease).

Also some quick mental workouts:
1) Play a brain game
2) Don't retire
3) Make musice
4) Pay attention
5) Do a jigsaw puzzle
6) Go back to school
7) Take a tech brake
8) Get a library card

Similar information is offered by Fox News from a study that was done in 2002 - 2003. It was recently published in the British Journal of Medicine acknowledging that physical activity not only helps cognitively but a seniors physical well-being, to boost healthy aging. Thank you + Caring for Aging Parents and their post from Securus GPS on Nov 26, 2013 for mentioning this Fox News article.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Take a peek at these fun yet functional gift.

I have seen a variety of Christmas gifts for elderly parents, even appropriate for those with a disablity this season from different vendors and sites. Check these out to see if anything catches your eye.

(Bluetooth phone, Fitbit, LifeBio Journal)

There are plenty more. Please click here.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Memorial Christmas Ornaments.

As Advent starts, our church parishoners carry on a 'tradition' if you will (we have been doing this for about 4 - 5 years), of honoring and remembering those family members and friends who have passed on, either during the past year or before. Each year, we offer a style of Christmas ornament which is tagged with the name of a loved one, blessed by our priest during mass, then followed by adorning what is now known as our
"Memorial Christmas Tree" set upon the alter. The tree and ornaments stay there during the Christmas season for all to see. Not only do we decorate the tree with the current ornament but people can bring in those from past years. This started out as a fundraiser for our youth group but has taken on a life of its own. Donations can be given for these but we do it for the sentiment. Our first ones were the pewter - many folks had us put a loved one's name on a tag so the family could put a photo in the center. (What you see is sample of my family's ornaments.) The tree looks beautiful when adorned. All names are there to see and remember past seasons. When the tree gets taken down, all ornaments are taken home by the family. Some people have told us they keep them displayed all year long. It is nice to see that what started out, probably as a one time event, has grown to be something that our parishoners look forward to, adding to the memory of someone special.

Popular Posts

4 Signs of Caregiving Stress Overload

ElderCarelink email posts 4 signs that should not be overlooked by you, the caregiver, or a close family member or friend. They report that even though the immediate caregiver may not be helping in direct care, the mind is never far from the needs of the older person, thinking about meals, falling, medications. Take the opinion of a family member or friend if they are telling you that you are stressed. Four signs: you skip your own physicals; you isolate yourself from others; you eat and/or drink too much for good health; you are short tempered with the elder, your spouse or your children. If any or all of these sound familiar, take a break no matter how short in order to recharge. For more information on caregiver stress see ElderCarelink


You can check out my ranting and stream of consciousness writing about looking at adult service providers with Will.

A Caregiver's Poem

I was looking through a 'Caregiver's Blog: Senior Care Support' and came across a poem that was shared by a writer, Dana, from the blog. The poem was written by Becky Netherland and Dana's grandmother shared it with her. I thought it was great and there is not much to say about it - just read!!! Enjoy!!

Grandma’s Pearls of Wisdom:
(picture from Caregivers Blog)

I’ve traveled paths you’ve yet to walk
Learned lessons old and new
And now this wisdom of my life
I’m blessed to share with you
Let kindness spread like sunshine
Embrace those who are sad
Respect their dignity, give them joy
And leave them feeling glad
Forgive those who might hurt you
And though you have your pride
Listen closely to their viewpoint
Try to see the other side
Walk softly when you’re angry
Try not to take offense
Invoke your sense of humor
Laughter’s power is immense!
Express what you are feeling
Your beliefs you should uphold
Don’t shy away from what is right
Be courageous and be bold
Keep hope right in your pocket
It will guide you day by day
Take it out when it is needed
When it’s near, you’ll find a way
Remember friends and family
Of which you are a precious part
Love deeply and love truly
Give freely from your heart
The world is far from perfect
There’s conflict and there’s strife
But you still can make a difference
By how you live your life
And so I’m very blessed to know
The wonders you will do
Because you are my granddaughter
And I believe in you.

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